Childhood obesity has more than tripled in the past 30 years, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Helping your children have healthy eating habits is the first step patents can take to prevent childhood obesity.
Getting your kids to eat healthy foods can be a challenge. Try to gradually get them used to eating more fresh foods. While you’re introducing your kids to new-to-them fruits and vegetables, make it palatable for them. Try chopping up some strawberries, oranges and bananas to put in their Jell-O or yogurt, or mince carrots, zucchini and spinach and mix them into in hamburger or turkey patties.
In recognition of National Fruits & Veggies Month – More Matters, check out our ideas for getting your kids interested in—and consuming more of—fruits and vegetables.
Give them independence. Each day, have your kids choose a different vegetable that they would like to have for dinner that evening. Giving them a choice helps them feel grown-up, gets them interested and included in the process, and eliminates the feeling that they’re being made to eat something just because Mom or Dad said so.
Make cooking a form of playtime. Get your kids to help you create menus, accompany you to the grocery store, and work with you to prepare meals. Make kitchen time fun–let them wash fruits and vegetables, shred lettuce for salads and sandwiches, break string beans and broccoli florets and mash potatoes. Kids can also peel and pull apart oranges, pick grapes, or peel bananas for a healthy fruit salad. Kids who are engaged in the process of planning and making the meal will be more apt to eat because they were part of the decision making. Plus, who doesn’t enjoy eating the fruits (and veggies!) of their labor?
Grow your own produce. In the summer, plant a garden with your kids. Choose from a variety of fruits and vegetables, such as strawberries, tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers. When your kids watch what they’ve planted grow into something that they can enjoy during a meal, they’ll feel proud and excited—and more likely to eat it.
Take a field trip. Plan a family day trip to the farm. Depending on the season, you can pick a variety of fruits and vegetables there, such as blueberries, peaches, apples, strawberries, zucchini and pumpkins. Take your fresh produce home and get the kids to help you make a special treat. Make an apple or blueberry pie, zucchini bread or peach ice cream.
Check it out. Check out some kid-friendly cookbooks from your local library. Let your kids choose what meals they want to prepare and have them make a list of the ingredients they need. Take them to the grocery store to buy their ingredients and have them help you prepare the meal that night.
If you’re interested in finding more ways to get your kids to eat healthier, try calling a Wellness Coach if you have access to a service like Health Advocate. Your coach will be able to tell you about other fun ways to help your kids up their fruit and veggie intake. You can also seek advice from your child’s pediatrician about nutritional questions and issues. Additionally, there are plenty of online resources you can use to find ideas to get your kids more interested in fruits and vegetables, such as:
www.foodchamps.org – This site offers fun games for kids of all ages; the games focus on the benefits of eating healthy foods.
www.fruitsandveggiesmorematters.org/take-your-kids-to-the-supermarket-day – This site features fun activities you can do at the supermarket to help you get your kids excited about fruits and veggies.